Abstract Spaces デラックス was released by Digital Voyager on the Bandcamp label Ailanthus Recordings. Of the many vaporwave labels on Bandcamp, AR is by far the most diverse and experimental. Generally, Beer on the Rug hosts a handful of Ramona Andra Xavier’s work in addition to releases that are similar in style, Dream Catalogue houses hazy dreamscapes, and Business Casual focuses on future funk. Ailanthus Recordings has released music in a wide array of styles and tend to cater to the polar extremes of vaporwave as a whole. Corporate jazz albums such as Donovan Hikaru’s Business Travel Bonanza lay alongside the punk-based Fjords releases (volumes II, IV, and V). I guarantee that if you dig through this fascinating music niche you’re bound to find something that interests you.
Abstract Spaces デラックス is an interior design project by the fictional companies Osaka Interior Design LTD and Fukuoka Mall Design Services. The album’s subtext draws the listener in through describing the different spaces available for purchase: “From cutting edge Lasertag Arenas and Underwater Computer Lounges to relaxing Arts and Crafts Centers…you’re guaranteed to find the right space for you. Take a walk through the malls of the future, today!” Each of the spaces described in this text are showcased throughout the album.
The tracks on Abstract Spaces デラックス come from keyboard demos from the 80s and 90s, apart from one original song. Digital Voyager made this album as “[an] homage but also made to express my fascination for the quaint corporate soundtracks of the 90s.” This album is presented in a very professional manner, very much like a showroom. The opening track welcomes the listener to the world of digital interior design (“Introducing Your New Spaces!”) whereas the closing track nicely concludes everything and wishes the listener to return (“See You Soon!”).
The corporate jazz compositions on this album are a solid, digital representation of the sounds and styles that they emulate. “Underwater Computer Lounge 2000 オンライン！” is composed in the style of a MIDI-based jazz big band. In jazz, there is a common improvisational style known as “trading”. While improvising over a chorus, musicians will sometimes “trade 8’s” or “trade 4’s”, meaning that they will alternate improvising in 8 or 4-bar groups, respectively. In this track, a saxophone and a synthesizer trade 2’s. Because the sax is panned to the right and the synth is panned to the left, a pseudo-stereo image is created.
Going along with the idea of imagery, the two-part jungle tracks are really neat. The tracks “JUNGLE シミュレータ (Dawn)” and “JUNGLE シミュレータ (Dusk)” are placed back-to-back so as to create a cohesive final image for the listener. Both tracks accurately capture the intended atmosphere.
Everything about this album stirs up nostalgia for me. From the early graphic design and Solo Cup “Jazz” patterns that decorate the cover to the Rugrats sample in “クリエイティブ ARTS AND CRAFTS CENTER”, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in the 90s. Abstract Spaces デラックス truly is a hidden gem in the world of vaporwave and nostalgic culture.
Favorite Track: Underwater Computer Lounge 2000 オンライン！